Urge the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and President Obama to pass the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act of 2011 (H. R. 988/S.517).
Who was Katie Sepich?
Katie's Law is named after Katie Sepich, who was 22 years old when she was brutally raped and murdered in Las Cruces, New Mexico. If New Mexico had at that time required a DNA sample to be taken upon arrest, Katie´s killer would have been caught three months after the murder when the murderer was arrested for another predatory crime. Instead, the killer was released back onto the streets; it was three long years before he was finally apprehended again and linked to Katie´s murder.
About Katie's Law
The Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act (H. R. 988/S.517) sponsored by U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA 29) and U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), is a bill that will provide incentive by providing additional federal funding to states for collecting a DNA sample on arrest, at the same time fingerprints and mug shots are taken. DNA testing only requires a simple cheek swab upon arrest.
Collecting DNA upon felony arrest means allowing law enforcement to take a DNA swab from the arrestee, at the same time, the arrestee is fingerprinted. DNA testing only requires a simple cheek swab upon arrest.
Then once the DNA sample is collected, the DNA is sent to a lab, where the crime scene sample and DNA rape kits is tested against the offender.
At the same, the DNA taken from the offender, it would go into the FBI's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which is a computer program, where DNA samples taken from crime scenes and sexual assault victims are stored.
Then the DNA analysts use CODIS to search for DNA profiles from other crime scenes and DNA Rape kits and their convicted offenders and arrestees. Then CODIS generates leads for investigators when the match is obtained.
Katie's Law, however, would provide an additional 10-15% extra funding from the Edward Byrne Gran for states that collect DNA on arrest at the same time the arrestee is fingerprints - for certain felony crimes. By passing arrestee DNA legislation, law enforcement officials can catch repeat offenders sooner, prevent violent crimes, exonerate the innocent, protect civil liberties, reduce criminal justice costs, save more lives and use DNA to its full potential.
The Reason We Need To Collect DNA For Felony Arrests
States have been collecting DNA from convicted felons for almost two decades, and it's helped solve thousands of crimes. But, more needs to be done. By collecting DNA from arrestees at the same time the arrestee is fingerprinted, it would allow law enforcement to gain information to see if the suspect has been being involved in other crimes. By doing that, it will prevent other rapes and murders, and it also will exonerate the wrongfully accused. When DNA is collected from all felony arrestees, law enforcements can catch criminals make faster, and in the end saves more lives.
Studies have shown that in burglaries and other non-violent crimes there is a 40% chance that these crimes are being committed by someone who has already committed violent crimes, perhaps even murder. If they haven't, there is an 80% chance that they eventually will commit a violent crime. That means 40% of these non-violent crime scenes could have evidence that would lead to a match with evidence from a serious assault, rape or murder.
There have been lots of cases where if DNA had been collected upon arrest, it would have saved a large number of women from being rape and even murdered, and also saved people from being wrongfully incarcerated for crimes they did not commit.
A Chicago Study taken in 2005, showed that 60 violent crimes could have been prevented if only DNA had been collected for a prior felony arrest. In each case, the offender had previously committed an undetected violent crimes that investigators could have identified immediately through a DNA match. Unfortunately, DNA was not required at arrest. The eight offenders in Chicago accumulated a total of 21 felony arrests before law enforcement officials were finally able to convict them of violent crimes.
Plus collecting DNA from felony arrests is cost effective, in the sense that it saves time and money in investigations. Collecting DNA upon felony arrest does not violate any constitutional rights. The courts have ruled that collecting DNA upon arrest is not unconstitutional. The DNA that is taken is kept in police laboratories and is confidential, and has strict penalties for people who misuse it.
Katie's Law would;
>> Incentivize states to meet minimum standards for arrestee DNA collection. The minimum standard asks states to collect DNA samples from those arrested for, indicted for, or charged with certain violent felonies and compare these samples with pre-existing records in the national DNA database. States that comply will receive a 5 percent increase in their Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program;
>> Incentivize states to meet enhanced arrestee DNA standards by providing states a 10 percent increase in their Byrne JAG funding if they collect DNA from those arrested for certain crimes and submit the samples for inclusion in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS);
>> Apply current federal law to ensure that any DNA profile of an arrestee that is not convicted is expunged;
>> Reduce the wasteful spending associated with the costly investigation of false leads. A study in Indiana estimated that taxpayers spend more than $2,000 per crime for officer response, investigation, prosecution, and adjudication. Catching repeat offenders early will reduce costs over time;
>> Protect the privacy of arrestees. Information obtained from a DNA sample and submitted to national DNA databases only contains 13 to 15 numeric indicators. These numbers are not connected to a name or criminal history and do not indicate broader identifying factors like race, medical history, or predisposition to disease; and
>> Protect the innocent. Katie´s Law is one of the only ways to definitively link killers and rapists to their heinous crimes. By definitively identifying the perpetrators, Katie´s Law statutes have frequently led to the exoneration of innocent men and women who would have otherwise spent decades in prison for crimes they did not commit.
What can you do to get the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act of 2010 passed?
Please write to and/or call your U.S. Representatives and Senators and President Obama tell them to pass to pass Katie's Law in the 112th congress. Also ask your U.S. Representatives and Senators to co-sponsor Katie's Law.
Also please sign the online petition below.